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The very best crime movies of 2016

2016. It won’t be remembered as a particularly stellar year, will it? A depressingly high number of big celebrity deaths, a series of bizarre and shocking political events and an almost endless cavalcade of upsetting news stories from the America, Europe, the Middle East and beyond… We won’t miss it, that’s for sure.

Fortunately we’ve had some consolation from Hollywood, though. The film industry has again come up trumps and churned out plenty of top movies to keep us nice and distracted. Here are some of our favourite crime flicks from the past twelve months…

The very best crime movies of 2016

best crime movies of 2016

Hell or High Water

This Southern Gothic heist flick went under a lot of people’s radars, which is a bit of a shame, really. Only it’s a belter. Chris Pine and Ben Foster (who are both excellent) play bank-robbing brothers, out to raise enough money snaffling cash from tellers to save their family farm. The lawman tasked with stopping them? Grizzled Texas Ranger Jeff Bridges, in typically bad-tempered, gruff form. There’s action, humour and pathos. And some of the best cowboy shirts ever captured on celluloid.

best crime movies of 2016

The Accountant

Ostensibly a Ben Affleck vehicle, this odd little action thriller is well worth catching. Not least because of its odd set-up and intriguing premise. The Batman actor plays an autistic math savant whose bog standard accountancy job works as cover for a much more exciting gig cooking the books for a range of high profile and dangerous criminal clients. Not only that but our socially-awkward hero is also a highly-trained assassin. So it might not be the most realistic crime movie of the year, but it sure is one of the most unique and interesting. Read our full review here.

best crime movies of 2016


This creeping thriller, starring a shaven-headed Daniel Radcliffe, makes the rather unlikely suggestion that domestic terrorism from White Power groups may well be a bigger concern to America than attacks from foreign-born threats. Radcliffe plays a rookie FBI man who goes undercover in a white supremacy outfit in this effective, if slightly formulaic, crime thriller. If you trade Radcliffe for Johnny Depp and a gang of racists for the Mafia, you’ve basically got Donnie Brasco. But that’s no bad thing.

best crime movies of 2016

The Nice Guys

Lethal Weapon writer and Kiss Kiss Bang Bang director Shane Black made an almighty comeback this year with arguably the year’s best movie. 116 minutes of pure unadulterated madness, it’s an unrelenting fun ride of guns and schemes and gags. The two leads, Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling, play a classic odd couple and almost seem to be competing for the audience’s attention. Both absolutely kill it as LA private detectives who team up to track down a missing girl. Refreshingly rude, funny and not a little bit violent, The Nice Guys harks back to the glory days of the buddy cop movies of the 1980s. Top drawer.

best crime movies of 2016

The Infiltrator

The second season of Netflix’s excellent cartel drama Narcos hit this year, but TV doesn’t have the monopoly on Pablo Escobar-related thrills. This tense piece starring Breaking Bad’s Bryan Cranston entertained plenty of popcorn lovers on the big screen this year. The former Heisenberg plays Robert Mazur, a U.S. Customs special agent who goes deep undercover to bust the Colombian drug lord’s money laundering operation wide open. Cranston is ably assisted by the always entertaining John Leguizamo and solid support from the likes of Benjamin Bratt and Olympia Dukakis.

best crime movies of 2016

Jack Reacher: Never Go Back

Producers are desperate to turn the Jack Reacher series into a workable movie franchise, but – for some reason – the movies just don’t really seem to chime with the movie-going public. Which is a shame because, for our money, the adaptations as just as thrilling as Lee Child’s source material. This second Reacher outing sees Tom Cruise ‘going back’ to Washington DC and attempting to get to the bottom on a conspiracy to frame a love interest (played by Cobie Smulders). And it’s well worth two hours of your time. Not least for the performance of Danika Yarosh, as Reacher’s ‘is she? Isn’t she?’ daughter. Read our full review here.

best crime movies of 2016

Blood Father

Mel Gibson’s been in the Hollywood wilderness for a little while now. Alcoholism, harassment charges and claims of anti-Semitism tend not to do your A-Lister status too many favours. The Australian has made a few films in the last couple years though, but this is probably his best. As a grizzled and washed-up old tattooist with a big ol’ beard, he has to save his daughter from some rather unscrupulous border types. We sense a few of these hard old man on a mission movies coming up for the man who might just be known as the Antipodean Liam Neeson in a few years.

So there you have it. Those stuck out for us. How about you? Have we missed any of the best crime movies of 2016 off our list? Let us know in the comments below!

Steve Charnock

Steve Charnock is a freelance writer who writes news stories, features, articles, reviews and lists. But *always* forgets to write his mum a birthday card.

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1 Comment

    Most are choices that I agree with. I haven’t seen Jack Reacher yet, and despite my love for Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, or probably because of it, I thought The Nice Guys fell a bit short. I would probably add Green Room to this list.

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